Let me introduce you to my Kid Brother and one of my closest friends.
He was born at about 4:30 PM on October 14, 1952 and according to Mom who told me this, she said, “He was my thorn in the flesh growing up.”
Of course he is not this “cute” today – but we will get to that later.
He goes by the title “Fast Eddie” because, according to him, he is never last and is always ready.
Ole, Fast Eddie, (I call him Ed) will turn 69 years of age today. He stands a gigantic 5 foot 4 inches tall and may weigh in at a maximum of 130 pounds soaking wet. However small in stature, he’s always had a large attitude that was much bigger than even he can stand at times. That Napoleonic attitude of his has gotten him into trouble more times that one can imagine. However, it has also made him a great leader, just like the namesake, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Picking on guys bigger than him …
My brother has always been one to go up against some of the biggest, meanest kids in school. I don’t know why … but he did.
I remember I was about 4 and he was 2. I had a piece of hard candy – the kind that comes in red cellophane that kids like to hold up to their eyes and look through. I gave the kid the candy, but he thru it on the ground and snatched the paper from my hands. I wanted the paper and apparently so did he. I shoved him backwards and he fell off our porch onto the ground where he hit his head on a sharp rock and split it open. That was the first time I saw my brother bleed. It was a small gash that required about 4 stiches … but he bled like a stuck pig. To this day … if you look close … you can see the scar that still remains on the back of his head. Perhaps this is the day I knocked all the sense he had, out of him.
A couple of years later when he was 4 or 5 he got into a “stick fight” (much like a sword fight) with a kid that lived down the road from us. Naturally the kid was a lot bigger than Ed – but that did not matter to Ed. The kid had a stick with a nail in the end of it and Ed had a small twig he’d broken off a bush. It did not concern Ed that the kid had a more sturdy stick with a nail … he was gonna fight him anyhow.
It ended up with Ed getting stabbed in the right side with that nail and the boy pushing the stick down toward the ground which ripped my brother’s side wide open. The wound was about 2 to 3 inches long. This was the second time I saw my brother bleed. I thought he was gonna bleed out before I got him home. This wound required about 20 stiches and he is proud to show the scar to this day.
A couple of years after that, after he’d learned to ride a bike, he was on my sisters bike. A girls bike, and and made up his mind that he was the fastest kid in the neighborhood riding bicycles. One of the BIGGER neighbor kids talked him into a race across a vacant lot between two brick houses. My brother won the race … but because he waited too late to apply the brakes he smashed into the side of the brick house.
He skidded off the bicycle seat right onto the bar that comes from the sprocket to the handle bars of that girls bike with such force that he ripped his “family jewel” wide open. This was the third time I saw my brother bleed, and man did he bleed this time. The boy never seemed to learn that for every action there is a reaction. There is always consequences … sometimes not good consequences.
All through school my brother had a habit of starting fights with boys bigger than him. I have never in my life saw him start a fight with a kid his own size or smaller than him … but then there was not many around that was smaller then or now. And, yes, I was even one of the boys he’d pick fights with. He loved to run up and sucker punch someone bigger than him and take off running. He was fast and could run forever it seemed. Perhaps this is where he got the first part of his nickname … “Fast!” He had to be fast or get beaten to a pulp. Usually the big guys, after chasing him awhile, would just wear out and give up … my brother would count that as a WIN.
At 6’0″ I stand about 8 inches taller than my kid brother. I’d call him my baby brother but he has always hated that. I’ve always stood about 8 inches taller than my brother. Look at the pants he was wearing in the picture above. They were “hand me downs” from me and they’re rolled up about 8 inches so he does not walk on them.
An entrepreneur at heart …
When he was in his pre-teens (about 10 or so) our Uncle Junior, who lived with us for a short time, built my brother a shoe-shine box and taught him how to shine shoes. It was no time before my 10 year old brother had his first business venture going and was making money at every tavern in town shining the shoes of drunk men who would toss him quarter or a dollar, depending on how much they had to drink. I remember one time he charged a man 25 cents to shine one shoe and told him the fee to shine the other was 50 cents. He had a way of making a buck to offset inflation, as the price of polish rose from 10 cents to 12 cents!
He has been in several business ventures since then and still is at the age of 69. I don’t know if he will ever retire. He sold a business about 10 years ago and retired for about 2 years before he went back to work. He doesn’t need the money or to be any more successful … he just loves the journey! The more problems life throws his way, the more interested he is in living and working through them. His philosophy is that you don’t learn to be successful from success alone … you become super successful by learning from your mistakes.
Always more independent than dependent …
My brother has never seemed to need anyone to be dependent on. He’s been earning his own way since he was 10 years old.
If memory serves me correct, he was not much older than 16 or 17 years old when he decided he did not need mom and dad anymore. He’d been making his own money since he was 10, which is the same year he started smoking and got me and my sister to follow in his footsteps with the nasty habit. By the time he was in his teens he was drinking pretty heavily and disobeying dads rules every time he had a chance too. He would steal cigarettes from our Uncle Junior who always had a carton of Salem and a cartoon of L&M around the house. Ed and Sandi liked the coolness of the menthol in the Salem’s and I liked the harshness of the non-menthol L&M’s. As for the beer, Ed would either pay (or threaten) older guys to get him a six-pack from time to time that he would share with his best buddy Danny.
It was at the young age of 16 or 17 when he moved out of the house and got his own apartment (above a bar) where he lived. He did not quit school though. I think he liked chasing girls at school too much to quit. He was good looking enough to chase them. Here’s his high school photograph.
He did have a steady girlfriend at the time, Debbie, that he ended up marrying and bringing a daughter, Kim, into the world before divorcing her in the late 1970s … but that did not stop him from chasing girls at school.
His last two years of High School a normal day would be … get up … go to school for awhile and chase the girls (or fight) … go to work to make some money … go home, smoke some cigarettes and drink some beer and work on his old 1950 Plymouth that he got from our granddaddy … go to bed and get up the next day and do it all over again. His grades did not fall much either since he’s always been a “bright guy” and could keep up from classwork alone, without the need to do much of the homework. Back in those days if you could “ace the test” you could “ace the class.” As for me I worked extremely hard for every D and C I got while he got drunk and made A’s and B’s.
He joined the Army …
Like me … right after high school my brother enlisted in the Army. While I got a duty station of Phu Loi South Vietnam (I went in two years before he did) he got lucky and became a Permanent CQ in a place called Frankfurt Germany. While one day of work for him was 24 hours (of which he could sleep about 8 hours of that) he would then get 48 to 72 hours off to do as he wished. One day of work for me was only 8 hours … but I was on call 24 hours a day 365 days a year without time off – except for 7 days of R&R that most combat soldiers get (and Dummy me never took advantage of that).
I told you he was a bright independent guy. Ed had plenty of time to travel around Europe, drive with no speed limits on the Audubon and get drunk.
He did go to college …
After the military with the GI Bill and money he made working construction and selling home grown weed my brother attended …
The Oldest University in the State of Illinois, located in Normal, Illinois where nothing is really normal. He was married at the time with a young daughter. He managed to work full time and graduate in about 3 years while making the “Deans List.” His college major was “Political Science” which he’s always had a passion for. His original intention was to teach at some level, but that did not last very long. I think he was fired from his first “student teaching” job for teaching a classroom of high school students to go home and question their republican parents as to why they would be idiotic enough to vote for President Richard Nixon. He seemed to know he was a crook before the “Watergate” news broke.
In addition, he learned quickly that being a legitimate teacher paid “peanuts” and he was not into working for peanuts.
He then went to work, right out of college, for ServiceMaster Corporation scrubbing floors. It was not long though – due to his poly science training, leadership traits and bull headiness that he was managing the operation he went to work for.
Later he became the chief honcho for ServiceMaster at Guys Hospital in London England. Quite a large organization to manage all the housekeeping chores. This line of work was perfect for my kid brother. All throughout our childhood, if you could see the bedroom we shared, you would understand. His side was always spic and span and my side always looked like a tornado had just blown through it.
If you looked at our offices today and gave them the “white glove test,” your glove would still be white after testing his; and when you tested mine it would be like you ran it down a chimney that was used for burning wood. When we go on motorcycle trips together (which we do often) he cleans his bike daily … mine may be taken to the car wash a month or so after the trip is over … if I have time.
Yes, the job was right for him, but the company was wrong. ServiceMaster was founded on religious Christian Principles – and at the time – my brother was very far removed from that.
After moving his wife (Nicki) and child (Joshua) to London my brother was fired from ServiceMaster after a meeting was held between him and some company officials. It seems that after a night of pretty heavy drinking at a local Pub (a common thing for him in England) my brother came to the meeting with a hangover, I guess, because when one of the officials called for prayer before the meeting started my brother probably said something to the effect (I was not there so can’t quote him exactly), “To Heck with prayer let’s get this meeting started so we can get some decisions made.” Always the “Fast Eddie” even when it came to meetings.
When he was fired for that, he was told he would NEVER work for ServiceMaster again. So what did he do next?
He went to Lincoln Nebraska and purchased a failing ServiceMaster Franchise. I guess the Franchisor, ServiceMaster, thought, “Yea he took our money for several years and let us down, now we will take his.” Franchisee’s must pay on-going fees to the Franchisor.
My brother sold that business about 20 – 25 years after purchasing it for several times more than he paid for it, and it gave him a great lifestyle all while he owned it. Like I said earlier, he retired for a couple of years. Actually, he took an extended vacation and traveled the country in his motor home for a couple of years, before getting involved in other income sources. One of those sources was consulting work for ServiceMaster Corporation. He did get the last laugh against someone or some thing bigger than him. He always had to prove himself to the BIG GUY!
He seems to defy death …
We were on a Motorcycle Trip a few years ago headed to “Rolling Thunder” in Washington DC. My brother, Fast Eddie, was in the lead followed by Dan Fonfara (his buddy from Lincoln and not the Danny he grew up with) then me. We were traveling down the interstate when it came a downpour that lasted for about 300 miles. The harder it rained the faster Ed seemed to want to go. We were hitting speeds (on motorcycles in the rain) of 80 to 85 miles per hour.
When we were finally able to pull up for gasoline I went over to where he was pumping gas and said, “Man do you have a death wish or something?”
His response was, “Bro, I’ve almost died 3 times in my life doing something that is healthy. I am not really worried about dying doing something that is unhealthy.”
What did he mean?
The first time he almost died …
He was taking a nap on his sofa, either Christmas day or Christmas Eve when he was about 40 years of age. He’d already given up drinking and was a sponsor for some in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) when he had a massive heart attack.
After being in the hospital for a couple of weeks without smoking the first thing he did when he got out and before he got home was to stop off at a convenient store and buy a pack of Kool’s … forever a menthol man. When he asked his doctor why he had no urge to smoke in the hospital but an urge that overtook him when he got out, the doctor told him it was because he could not smoke in the hospital and he could outside of the hospital.
A few months later he joined a smoking cessation class and gave up the nasty habit and to my knowledge has not smoked since.
The second time he almost died …
He was consulting with ServiceMaster in India and went out to dinner with his wife and son who were there visiting him. He got an extreme stomach ache and was rushed to the hospital. I don’t know exactly what happened but understand whatever it was caused him to lose about 2 to 2-1/2 feet of his intestine.
So close to death … but he defied it once again.
The third time he almost died …
A few years (or perhaps less) after the stomach issue he was at home one morning brushing his teeth after breakfast and all of a sudden had a stroke. It was not severe, but could have been. I remember him telling me that after 6 doctors or so came in to see him in the emergency room, he had the nurse go out and get them all to come back to his room at one time.
He told them, “Look I had a stroke on the right side of my brain that is effecting the left side of my body. I am not going to pay you all to tell me that, so one of you needs to tell me and do something about it because I am only paying one doctor.”
Needless to say they found the blood clot (which was likely an after effect of the stomach surgery – though I don’t know for sure) and wanted him to stay in the hospital for therapy and observation. His response to this … “No, I will check myself out against medical advise because I can learn to squeeze a rubber ball at home without anyone watching me.” Like I said, Mr. Independent.
This is my Kid Brother today …
Standing next to his pride and joy – his 1933 Ford. And No … that is not a beer in his hands. Probably some nasty tasting sparkling water – his favorite drink now-a-days.
And here he is again straddling his other pride and joy is 2005 Yamaha.
As you can see, the man loves the color YELLOW! Most people feel the color yellow shows cowardice. Not my brother. When it comes to fear there is only one thing I know of that he fears more than anything else … that is losing money … and money is green … at least American Money is.
Since his days of his troubled youth my brother has become one of the most righteous Christian men I know – second only to my father who died years ago.
He is a leader to most because he is …
- Usually correct
- Big hearted with most he comes in contact with
- Caring for the underdogs of the world
As well as sometimes being rather …
- Full of Attitude
Today is your birthday Lil Bro …
Make the best of it and remember I will always have a soft spot in my heart for you. You have always been and always will be my best friend – even when we don’t see eye to eye and tend to argue much of the time. However, even though I am older, make sure you never forget; I was 542 days old the day you were born so I was 542 times your age.
Today, at the ripe old age of about 70-1/2 … I am only 1.022 times your age … so you are catching up to me pretty fast, Fast Eddie!
Have a La Croix Sparkling Water on me!